OPINION: America Absolutely Has A Gun Problem

The environment we live in today is the result of too many guns in combination with toxic masculinity. Let’s face it America, it’s not just white men that are responsible for the vast majority of gun violence; it’s toxic and abusive men in general.

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I know. I know. A bunch of you folks are already triggered by what I just said. But hear me out. I'm a gun-owner. In fact, I've owned A LOT of guns.

Before we start, I want to address the "guns don't kill people, people kill people" mantra. It's dumb.

Just stop it.

It's an oversimplification of a much larger, more complex issue and it only serves to stifle productive discussion towards a solution. Do you even see the obvious problem with that simple statement?

I could easily respond with, "if people kill people, then maybe we shouldn't give people guns." Right?

I bet y'all probably still mad though.

But, check it. There are a lot more guns than people in America. Currently, there are roughly 393 million civilian-owned firearms circulating in the United States - enough for every man, woman, and child to own one and still have 67 million guns left over. [1]

See the problem?

No?

How about, the fact that in 2017 Americans made up 4 percent of the world's population but owned about 46 percent of the entire global stock of 857 million civilian firearms. We're talking guns in the hands of citizens. That worldwide statistic comes from a very reliable source in the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. [2]

That averages out to about 120 guns for every 100 American citizens. Look, I know quite a few folks that would qualify as "gun-nuts" but not a single one of them owns more than 20 firearms. Out of those twenty, no less than 5 or 10 are collectibles. Seriously, who needs more than that? It's ridiculous and unnecessary.

But, I digress.

The point I'm trying to make here is that there are entirely too many guns in this country; constituting a gun problem (because that's what it is). No matter which way you look at it, it's a problem.

Look, I don't want to lose my gun rights any more than the next guy. I like to shoot. My kids like to shoot. We don't hunt - although we have - we like to target shoot for sport, typically in an indoor gun range. It's a lot of fun. If you've never tried it, I highly recommend it at least once in your life. If nothing else, you'll have that story to tell your grandkids. Trust me, target shooting is a blast.

I also don't want to hear about PTSD or Bi-Polar disorder, or that any other mental illness is a factor in shootings.

Sure, some of these killers have mental health issues (that only seem to carry any weight when the shooters are white), but there are millions of us who suffer from these mental illnesses who have no urge, nor can we even fathom the thought, of doing such a thing.

Again, just saying some dude was "a nut" as Trump said about the shooter in Thousand Oaks, California is just another oversimplification that prevents further discussion.

I can't claim to have all the answers, but I can say that a great place to start would be with what the vast majority of Americans have been asking for. Universal Background Checks.

For years Americans have been surveyed and asked about their support for Universal Background Checks and those surveys see approval ratings from 87% in 2016, to 97% after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. [3] [4]

Interestingly, a Pew Research Survey found that both Republicans (79%) and Democrats (88%) supported the Background Checks with Independents making up the difference, respectively. [5]

In addition to all of that support, dozens of studies have been conducted offering myriad solutions and ideas on how to tackle gun violence in America. From proper training and safety classes prior to purchasing a firearm, to preventing domestic abusers from owning firearms to early diagnosis of potential issues with individuals

Why hasn't any of this been even discussed on the legislative level in America? The answer is so simple we only need three letters. NRA.

The NRA, funded by gun manufacturers who enjoy tremendous profits from selling more and more guns every year, is used as a propaganda arm to stoke fear using anti-government rhetoric, stoking fears of invasions by migrant caravans, and even claiming at one point that Obama was going to use our military to take over Texas for some unknown, yet quite nefarious reason.

Needless to say, Operation "Jade Helm" never happened.

By that point, gun manufacturers with tons of help from their propaganda arm, the NRA, had sold 122 million firearms during Obama's term in office using "he's gonna take your guns" propaganda stoking nationwide fears. [6]

That never happened either.

Now, gun manufacturers, who have seen slumping sales since Obama's term was over needed something else, something new to keep fanning those flames of fear. Will it be the migrants coming to the United States? Or will it be something even more sinister?

One thing is for sure, their sales aren't what they used to be just three years ago, and I'm just waiting to see what comes next from the gun lobby.

It's a good thing for us that we just elected a whole slew of people that will help Americans finally get what we've been asking for. To finally start putting something on the table to try and make some changes as opposed to just sitting on their hands.

We may never be able to prevent every gun death or every school massacre; a statistical impossibility considering the tremendous amounts of guns are on our streets. But we can sure as hell slow them down. We can stop a good portion of them. Putting us on a path to more permanent and reasonable solutions that save lives.

When people say we want common sense gun laws, this is what we're talking about. There are no simple solutions to complex problems, but the solutions are already out there.

All we have to do is give them a try because it's better than doing nothing. And we already know that doing nothing never solved a damned thing.

Just look around.

SOURCES:

[1] http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/about-us/mission.html

[2] http://graduateinstitute.ch/home.html

[3] www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/10/upshot/How-to-Prevent-Gun-Deaths-The-Views-of-Experts-and-the-Public.html

[4] https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2521

[5] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/01/05/5-facts-about-guns-in-the-united-states/

[6] http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/about-us/mission.html

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Anti-racist activist, essayist, and upcoming author; advocating for equality, justice, and accountability. Support my work at patreon.com/ExtremeArturo

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